At first glance, working from home seemed like the ideal situation before COVID-19 started. You wake up and sit in front of your computer, probably still in your pajamas. The Today Show or your favorite Pandora station plays in the background.
If you are a work-from-home parent, you may be able to walk your children to and from the bus stop or drive them to school. If you have flexibility, you can attend field trips or volunteer in the classroom by completing your work in the evening hours. There are no neckties, no morning make-up routine, no rush hour traffic, and no having to write your name on your yogurt to prevent it from being lifted from the break room fridge. It seems like an ideal setup, except, of course, for something you didn't expect: the countless distractions that come with working from your house. With school closures happening once again, many parents are juggling full-time jobs, countless responsibilities while homeschooling due to classroom Omicron outbreaks and fear of future variants.
The "really quick" call from Mom.
No matter how many times you try to explain to your parents that even though you are technically "home", you actually do have a job. Without fail, as you are settling into your work day you will get the call, "Hi! Really quick, I can't get on the internet, can you tell me what is wrong with my computer?", "Sorry! Really quick, did you ever send me those pictures from Thanksgiving? I want to make a photo book. By the way, how do I use that Shutterfly thing, again?"
They need to be fed. They need to be walked. They want to sit on your lap. They bark incessantly at the squirrel in the backyard or the jogger that seems to be getting her marathon training miles in by running up and down your block.
It calls out to you for breakfast. It calls again for lunch. You spend ten minutes debating whether to toss or reheat that slightly suspect to-go box of pad Thai. You find yourself running to the fridge for a quick snack, or a drink, or just to stare inside.
The UPS guy.
He rings the doorbell and your dogs go crazy. You grab the package and remember that these are the gorgeous new shoes your ordered. You take the gorgeous new shoes out of the package, try them on, and they're too tight. You are disappointed. You walk back to your computer to print out a return label, then repackage the gorgeous new shoes and set them aside to take to the UPS Store. You keep a piece of the bubble wrap for later.
The lawn guy.
He is mowing right next to your window, or possibly cutting down a tree with a chainsaw, or maybe he just has 16 lawn mowers that all run at once. The dogs are barking again and you need to get on a conference call. You pull your laptop into the closet and pray that no one else can hear the commotion.
On your way to the bathroom, you realize that the laundry hamper is overflowing. You decide to toss in a load to wash while you work--multitasking! But first, you have to first sort the laundry. 10 minutes later, you have 5 piles of dirty clothes on the floor and one in the wash. Later you will have to come back to move the wet laundry into the dryer. That is when you will decide that you might as well toss in another load.
Facebook, Instagram & TikTok
It's lunch time, so you decide to peruse social media while you eat your leftover Thai food. You could have sworn you just checked Facebook this morning, how have you not reached the 8 a.m. posts yet? If you stop scrolling now, you might miss something important. Your cousin Linda showcases her dance moves on her TikTok profile to catchy tunes and even though she's not exactly the best dancer, somehow you're hooked and can't stop watching.
Friend: "Whatup? What r u doing for lunch today? Wanna meet at Panama? Ha ha, autocorrect--PANERA." Daughter: "Mommy, I left my science folder and I have a quiz in 5th per. Can u bring it to me so I can study at lunch? Pls, pls, pls??? UR the best! Pls?" Target: "Click here for mobile coupon!" Husband: "Hey, Babe. What r we doing 4 dinner? Skipped lunch. STARVING."
Figuring out dinner ranks as the worst workday distraction. Do I want chicken? Fish? Steak? Frozen pizza? Tacos? Meatloaf? Spaghetti? Beef Stew? Do we have carrots? Are we out of onions? Do I have time to use the crock pot? Why didn't I think about dinner earlier?
As it turns out, working from home is not as easy as it seems.
Your boss may not be hovering over you, but your laundry always is.